I get a free letter every week here at the MTC, so I figure that I might as well write you all. You'll be hearing all of my menial and fun stuff through email, so I'll try to keep it focused on my testimony and how much I've already been changed here. Everything is going amazing. You will probably get this letter a week or so after I send it, so I'll let you know I'm writing this my third day out. The MTC is a wonderful place; that'll happen when you put 80 missionaries with the desire to serve Christ in a small building. My teachers do a great job, and Elder David and I are progressing at an insane rate. I can't even begin to explain to you how much we've learned; first discussion, teaching strategies, skills in talking to people, how to get in the door, how to gain trust, how to persuade with the Spirit, the irrefutable power of testimony. Well, you get the point.
Anyways, President Edwards was right when he said the first day, "It'll be like drinking from a fire hose; you may take a gulp every now and then, but that's about it." We've learned how to combat discouragement, which I think will be important on my mission, because the work is slow and the English people are very set/stubborn. But I've also learned that conversion is a process, something we as missionaries only get to see a small part of; whether that part be a slammed door on the first missionaries an investigator has seen, a baptism, or a member coming back to church; it doesn't matter. Our success is measured by how well we commit ourselves to the work and how we listen to the Spirit.
We just keep learning. The MTC is a wonderful place. There is obviously a power here; a spirit that I've never felt before - the people are wonderful, by the way - dwells within these halls. I hope that I can carry it with me in the field. English people, I've learned, are very blunt. It's almost hilarious, but it's getting to some of the Elders and Sisters. My companion just cannot budge our teacher, it's fun to see him try though. Something I've noticed also is the power of having a companion. The Lord was serious when He said, "by the mouth of two or three of my servants." It is no wonder people get married so quickly after their missions: I lost Elder David for two minutes once and already felt like a lost puppy. There is a power in two people who truly love each other.
Teaching has been quite the experience. Every day we teach two investigators: one is a progressing investigator, meaning we know him and set up appointments to keep meeting, and the other varies from referral to door contact. Elder David and I have two progressing investigators, John and Peter. John is a father with 3 LDS children and Peter is an awkward, quiet guy with a wife in the hospital. They really prepare you for everything, and it's incredibly real once you get in that living room. The street contacts are fun, the teachers do a really great job at making it real. We've had doors slammed in our face, potential investigators who are distracted, religious backgrounds in a bunch of different areas; we've been called gay, told to get out, and many more. There's always a review afterward, companion and teacher, and some even get filmed so we can watch later. It makes you so much better and gives you some first hand experience. But, even with the first few lessons, the Spirit still took the lessons where they needed to be. It's amazing.
I've gained a testimony of priesthood, as well as the difficulty of the work. Elder David and I gave a pretty rough lesson in the morning; it just wasn't how we wanted it to go. It also wasn't really 'up to par' with the other lessons we taught, so our conversation afterwards was about not comparing lessons, but instead striving to improve. It prevented discouragement in the face of a hard time. One of the Elders in our room was also having a hard time. There are some serious psychological and spiritual pressures here. I was able to give him a blessing along with his companion and Elder David. It was incredible. My mind went blank and my mouth spoke words. I was also able to give one of the Sisters a blessing. A wonderful, Brazilian convert, Sister W, who had a language barrier breakdown. It was so sad to see her that way, especially because her English is very good. The blessing came naturally and she calmed down immediately. Her companion is a great comfort, just as the companion of the Elder in our room. I'm spiritually exhausted, but my capacity to love has increased so much.
We were able to go to the temple today. I have a testimony of the peace found there, and answers to prayers. The Preston temple is gorgeous; most amazing baptismal font I've ever seen. I think I'm going to finish up here with my testimony. Elder David and I are heading into town for P-day in a bit. Plus, I have to send an email for you to get a week ago :-)
There has been no other truth made manifest to me so strongly than the divinity of the Book of Mormon this last week. It's words are comforting and instructive to the soul. It's history is heaven lead. And prayer can lead to a true knowledge of these things. The cool thing is, though, when someone believes in the Book, everything else falls into place. Prophets become real, our Heavenly Father's love becomes real. Our lives become filled with hope and therefore joy. This is a gospel of happiness, and I promise that if you read the Book, whether you are converted or not, it will bring joy to your life.
Time's flying. One of our teachers said something so true: "In the MTC, days are like weeks and weeks are like days." He also said it in a really good, broken Mandarin accent, as it sounded very wise :-) Read the Book of Mormon. It will bring happiness into your home (our home). Love you all. Like Nick Shrum once said, "The Church is true, The Book is blue, and Jesus is a Mormon!" :-)